ANKARA: Russia said Friday it was willing to “set aside differences” with Turkey ahead of talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish officials that will focus on Syria.
“Turkey and Russia have clearly different positions on several questions, notably the Middle East, but these must be put aside when Mr. Putin holds talks in Istanbul,” Russian Ambassador Vladimir Ivanovsky told reporters.
“Turkish Russian cooperation will not suffer from these divergences,” he added.
The Russian president is expected to visit Turkey Monday to discuss bilateral relations with Turkish leaders, as well as regional developments, topped by the conflict in Syria.
Earlier this week, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Putin’s visit could provide an opportunity to compare notes on conflict-wrecked Syria.
“Putin arrives in Turkey on Monday,” Erdogan told reporters during a visit to Spain. “We are going to discuss this question in depth.”
“If Russia shows a more positive position, that could push Iran to re-examine the situation,” Erdogan said.
Moscow last week opposed Turkey’s request from NATO to deploy Patriot missiles on its volatile Syria border, saying that such a deployment could spark a “very serious armed conflict” involving NATO.
Ankara insisted that the U.S.-made Patriots would be used for defensive purposes, and NATO is expected soon to respond to the request, submitted last Wednesday.